We use the word wonder so often at Tinkergarten; with great joy, we even call ourselves “facilitators of wonder.” But a word so rich with meaning deserves real thought (listen to a conversation I had on the topic with the SparkleCast podcast).
Wonder requires us to slow down, to pay close attention and to notice. When we take time and use all senses, nature proves full of magic to discover, like the patterns of each unique snowflake after the winter solstice, the sweet sip of a honeysuckle, or the soft kiss of a breeze on the cheek. The living things, objects and forces in nature do not disappoint, especially to young eyes and ears.
Once we notice, we experience delight, surprise, and curiosity. These responses bring the chance to question and make sense of what we notice. How does it feel to get really soaked with rain? Why does the pond make that sound when it’s frozen? What would happen if I try to stick this object into the mud?
Discoveries can also inspire children’s imagination. A hidden grove becomes a castle, a stick a baton, the wind a character in their play. Magic lives quite close to the surface outdoors. There’s a reason the phrase “childlike wonder” exists: Whether through questioning or pretending, children cultivate new understanding and the deep desire to explore further.
The sense of wonder is a habit of mind that drives a lifelong love of learning and sense of being in the world.
The wonder of it all—the joy, the soaring spirits and reverential moments, the peace and feelings of belonging, of knowing that we are all part of a world that is pretty darn good.
— Ed Bieber
Perhaps the most subtle part of wonder is what follows all of this, especially if you make a habit of modeling it. Each of these discoveries not only makes us think or develop imagination, but they also help us appreciate the amazing world around us. Kids see how beautiful, intricate, coordinated and special our world truly is. No matter how or why you think we all got here, ours is a mind-blowing home, and there is so much for which we can be grateful.